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Foreign nationals who usually live in Thailand but find themselves stuck overseas because of the Covid-19 travel ban have been negotiating with the government for approval to return to their families for weeks now. Perhaps, at least there may be some light on the horizon. At least their plight is now being addressed by the CSSA as part of their daily briefings, albeit in generalisations.
Natapanu Nopakun, from the Information Department of the Foreign Ministry, says they will look at doing the same for foreigners once the government has finished repatriating all the Thai citizens who want to return home. But, initially, this will only allow holders of work permits or those with a permanent residence permit to enter the country, according to a Nation Thailand report.
"Our repatriation project is approaching completion, so once that's completed, we will handle the influx of stuck foreigners beyond Thailand. We appreciate the sacrifices and regret the inconvenience caused but hope that everyone understands that although Thailand appears to have won the battle against the virus, this is only the beginning and we have not yet overcome the war.
"The Covid-19 Situation Administration Center is currently considering the feasibility of having foreigners in time to reach the government. We expect also to prioritize the return of permanent residents and those with work permits as soon as the situation has eased.
"George" has resided in Thailand for 12 years, and has married a Thai woman for 9 years. But when the border gates went down at the end of March when he was visiting his sick mother back in the UK, he found himself shut out.
"All of this happened quite unexpectedly and I couldn't go back to Thailand. I 'm missing my wife and two kids desperately and I'm going to do whatever I need, so I can get back with them. This is a period when families tend to be united and the Thai government has shown little concern for our plight and hasn't even replied to my letters or tweets.
Barry Mutch missed the birth of his son when he got stranded in Oman as a result of Thailand’s ban on international flights and has only seen his child on video calls. As he works off-shore however, and rarely spends more than a month at a time in Thailand, he does not hold a work permit or permanent residency. He is pleading to be allowed to return, adding that he has no problem with doing the mandatory 14 day quarantine and being tested for the virus, offering to pay for it himself.
"My son and he need a dad. For now, it is difficult. I would be connecting with him there.
“Glen” says… “Been stuck in Hawaii since 19 February, came to Hawaii to conduct personal business and file my taxes along with my grandson's graduation. My family in Thailand misses me but we are doing alright and are least I can face time with my family.”
Foreign nationals who find themselves stuck overseas, separated from their Thai partners and children, have created two Facebook groups, “Farangs Stranded Abroad Due to Lockdown in Thailand” and “Thai Expats Stranded Overseas Due to Covid-19 Travel Restrictions”, where they share information and provide support, while campaigning to be reunited with their loved ones.
The number of new reported cases of the virus remains in single digits in Thailand, with the vast majority being detected while in state quarantine or detected when disembarking repatriation flights. The government is gradually lifting some restrictions, although a ban on international flights remains in place until at least the end of June.
The CCSA has said in the past that “it will spend the rest of June repatriating Thais from overseas” which means there could be at least another month of waiting for foreigners who wish to be re-united with their families.